Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Best Memorial Day Ever!

Well, I have great news and better great news. I finished my patio, but most important today is the day I became an Aunt. Unfortunately, for those waiting for the patio evolution and reveal you'll have to wait till tomorrow because today is all about Collin Joseph.

7.2oz of perfection!
My brother is a pilot in the US Air Force. {He'll love that I'm announcing that fact because the first time I began to write in my blog he emailed me saying, "You know you can write about me - I am a pilot." Confidence is something I guess you need to be a pilot, but my bro gets away with it because he's got the brains and wit to back it up.}

Because Joe is in the Air Force, he doesn't get to choose where he and his wife lives. Officially he is stationed in Mississippi, but has had 4 months of pilot training in San Antonio, TX. Personally, I would choose San Antonio any-day over Columbus, MS to enter the world.

I trekked down there to Texas twice - once when Joe graduated basic training, and once when my cousin graduated as well. The River-walk has to be one of my favorite places to visit and we've made some wonderful memories that I'll always cherish. Watching anyone devote their life to their country is a pretty special and emotional experience. Guess you could say I have a piece of my heart in the Alamo (I know - pretty cheesy but I am from Wisconsin so there's always room for a little cheese.)

Now I have another reason to love San Antonio. My Nephew was born at 8:30am after 30 hours of labor via Caesarian section. My mom flew out there with her husband and has been sending me pictures all day, which I'm so grateful for. Chad and I are hoping to head out to visit in a month when they are settled back in Mississippi. While I'm sad it won't be San Antonio, I really don't care so long as I get to finally meet Collin. I can't wait to see him in person and smell that baby smell :) Here are a bunch of images to enjoy. It's amazing how something so little can make your heart feel so full (without even meeting him yet.) :)

He's got hair!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

DIY :: Memorial Weekend Patio Extravaganza, Part 1

Happy long weekend to everyone! I've been hard at work so far trying to get some actual development for my patio oasis that I've been hankering for. So, from all my long hard studying (meaning watching the DIY or Home and Garden Channel) I've taken away the tip to start with a drawing!

So I opened my trusty Adobe Illustrator program, grabbed my tape measure and went to work on sketching out the space to scale.



What you're seeing here is a birds-eye sketch of my patio. The grey base is actually the space I have to work with - isn't it crazy how the railing has a foot outside the actual patio area? I'm tempted to get a gutter system flanking the whole space that will have some type of beautiful shrubbery, but I'm guessing it is WAY out of my budget. For now, I'm going to stick to the interior space for improvement!

This is the current way everything looks - the yellow and maroon boxes are my chairs. All the green are my spaces where I have plants currently, and the black circles are plants that are in dire need of being re-potted.

What is my goal for the space? To fill it with lots of green and color so that it feels like an amazing space - my own secret garden! What are those green 'troughs'? They are these awesome railing planters I scored for $7.50 a piece ($45 total) from Menard's. Right now they have lettuce in 2 (which are totally loving life right now, might I add), and herbs in another 2 (who don't know it, but they are going to soon be evicted). I think the lettuce definitely will stay, the herbs will be relocated, and these will be the more show-case, overflowing planters.

The round planters on the ground will be where I plan to create mini-systems of different types of garden goodness. I'm not sure quite how I'm going to do this, but the game plan is to head to the store - get all the plants I like that love lots of sun, and physically layout everything on the spot. Probably not the best plan of action, but it's all I've got so here goes nothing!

GOAL After:

Here is my goal plan for now. I'd love to find some kind of outdoor rug to set the scene and make this space feel more like a room. I also want to make it a bit more inviting for guests to come over for a happy hour cocktail or two, or four!

I also need to invest in a few more larger containers to make this scene happen, and am not sure how, but would like to get a feeling of being surrounded by greenery and wonderful smelling things!

Today I rounded up a mess of flowers, herbs, and filler foliage to begin the space. Heading to the nursery is so overwhelming by so many choices, but I figure this project is not a one-and-done type of job. It will be an evolution and ever changing adventure throughout the summer!

Thanks so much for reading and please post any tips you have for things you see me doing wrong! I'm always up for a good tip or lesson - so please preach away! :)


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bike, Ball, Bike

Days have been crazy and Summer is in full swing! It's amazing how fast your schedule can fill up - this weekend turned out to be epic, like The Odyssey, so bear with me through this lengthy post.

Chad and I had quite an amazing weekend last weekend. Since he's been working a ton lately, he was given the opportunity to take off a Monday (which I found out about 3pm, Friday), so I scurried to get the day off as well! Earlier in the week we came into a deal for some baseball tickets to Miller Stadium, so we bit and rounded out what we knew would be a fun-filled weekend!

I plan ALLLLLLLLLLL day long at work. One of my key tasks is keeping track of production and where all the jobs in our Graphic Design department are at. This makes it very tough for me to not plan every second of my life, but that is where Chad really balances me out - HE DOESN'T PLAN!!! Since we've been together I encourage him to plan a bit to please me, but we have both stretched and learned to meet in the middle. I really try not to plan too much of our free-time, if I can help it, on the weekends. Going into this weekend, I knew that we had the game Sunday, but other than that I left it open - even Monday, our free day! (that was so difficult for me.)

Chad did a wonderful job of planning this weekend of fun. He earns kudos, bonus points, and stars for organizing our mountain biking on Saturday, and Road bike adventure on Monday without any influence from me (other than I wanted to do something active). He also took charge and fixed up both my bikes, which I am so thankful that he does for me. I have no patience for bikes - and one and only reason I dislike biking is for how high-maintenance it is!

Saturday got going around 9am and I cooked breakfast while Chad took on my POS bike. Let me backstep - I have 2 bikes. One I bought from Chad while he worked with a very well-known bike company (in order to take advantage of his amazing discount.) I purchased a hybrid: able to go over bumps and rougher but flat terrain, but also very good on the road. I love this bike, but am still a bit overprotective of it, and reluctant to ride this on inner-city travels where I have to lock it up and leave it in public.

My other bike is my POS bike - you could say it stands for "piece of Shitake" bike. It is a bike I bought off a friend before I knew anything about cycling. It was cheap and functional for getting around town, but I'm really finding its limitations fast since I've been riding with someone who bikes on top-of-the-line equipment.

Mountain biking proved to be amazingly beautiful and exciting, but a bit frustrating. My bike just couldn't handle the down-hill runs because it's not really functional for that type of terrain, so we stayed on the flatter trails. It was a bit limiting, but we got in a pretty good ride once all was said and done.

Chad, hour 3 of working on the POS getting tires that could hold air, and breaks that could semi-help me stop.
Chad stole this shot of me without my knowing until later when I was checking my phone.
Hopefully that's not my best side...

There were some pretty awesome trails out here in Cambridge, WI. Such a cute little community!
The foliage was so awesome to enjoy and the weather has been more than amazing.
 Sunday brought another surreal day. We road-tripped to Milwaukee and had a nice, basic Wisconsin Tailgate - just the two of us. Beer, brats, potato salad, chips and dip; that's about as easy you can make it! Want to tailgate like you're in Wisconsin? Don't forget the sour kraut nor the Spicy Mustard on your brats - and don't even think about touching it with katchup. That's sac-religious in these parts!

We had the best time squatting on my old Buick's hood since we forgot chairs - but that makes it all the more memorable!
Not bad seats for this Twins vs Brewers game!
Monday! Ah, Monday - such a gift not having to head into work! We awoke and got ready to head out almost immediately. Chad only had to fill up the air in my tires so we didn't have a lot holding us back this time - YAY! We took on the Madison trail system, which I'm not all that familiar with - yet. But, I was so amazed at how incredible they are! The scenery, foliage, and overall care taken to them; they were immaculate, and went on forever. 

We rode about 10 miles into downtown by Lake Mendota, and started to head around the lake. Chad said, "We should go around" and I  knew this was going to be a day for the books! I'm one of those people who, if I like doing something I don't want to stop! So, being told that I can keep going and going doing something I'm really enjoying makes me feel like a kid who was told they were going to Chuck 'e Cheese!

I couldn't believe the views we saw all around the lake; of the capital, the beautiful plants and the homes. If I ever get to purchase a house, I think the way I'll find it is on bike! Luckily I packed some money for what turned into a pretty lengthy ride because we got hungry about three quarters into our trek. Chad was hankering for Mexican food so we picked up some burritos. We stopped at a pier just off the path and ate on the water on a dock which proved to be one of the best views of the day.
Chad, looking very serious.
So bummed that I blinked, but check out this view on the water!
Our ride tallied to about 30 miles once all was said and done; not bad for an impromptu ride on your day off! We made it around lake Mendota - check that off the bucket list! It's so great when you get to doing so much on a weekend where you don't really plan too much. What a good lesson to take life as it comes, and I like to think I bring a bit of good encouragement and realization for Chad to plan every once and a while. It's proof that we are a good balance, in that respect!

Coming SOON: 

Another 3-day weekend is coming up this Memorial Day weekend and my major plan is working on the patio! Check back for more updates on the development of my Patio Paradise (or so, I hope!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday :: Doing Nothing

I haven't been posting much lately, but I've been doing a lot! Not 'doing' in the sense that I've got a lot to show for it, but more out-and-about kind of doing. Mother's day brought a trip to visit Chad's family up in the Twin Cities. His family is always more than inviting and fun to hang out with so I look forward to these mini-trips. I also have a great infatuation with Minneapolis and St. Paul. They are a great graphic design mecca/hub of the midwest, and house so many cool local coffee shops and cute stores around every corner - I always find something new to see whenever I visit.

This trip Chad had the great idea to try the Jucy Lucy from Matt's Bar. I've already been to the other famous home of the other Juicy Lucy, the 5-8 Club. Can't say I have a favorite, but Matt's will always have a special memory as the place where Chad took one first bite of his burger and exploded the 'Jucy' out the other side all over his right arm and sleeve. I, the horrible girlfriend, died laughing but managed to pull it together enough to ask, "are you ok? are you ok?" Luckily he wasn't burned and later manged to get the cheese and grease out of his shirt. Imagine if someone was sitting next to him -they would have had a Jucy Shower!

Matt's Bar, one of the 2 known places in Minnesota to try a Jucy Lucy.
We then headed to the Twin's game at Target Field - our first time visiting and a gift from me for Chad's birthday. What a great stadium! I really enjoyed checking the view from every angle - I think we walked around it 3 times while fining our seat, visiting with some friends, gathering our selected food and beer of choice, and also picking out a Twins hat souvenir for Chad. He's a big Twin's fan, so I think it was quite a thrill for him to see them play in something other than the Metrodome.

We had pretty great seats and the night turned out to be perfect - other than the Twins loss.
Mother's day turned out to be a perfect Day of nothingness. We chilled out and enjoyed what was another amazing-weathered spring day. The whole group of us were outside most of the time reading, napping, and just taking in the gorgeous yard at Chad's Parent's place. I was amazed by the landscape, garden and flowers, and will be thrilled if my patio reflects even half the luster that their yard is. I was able to get half a book read while laying in the hammock, half in the shade and half tanning my legs (which are still pasty white.)

I definitely live my life with a work hard, play hard mentality. After a long week at work, nothing is better than avoiding all technology possible (other than my kindle), and just taking in the surroundings. I returned home from up north to the most amazing and intoxicating smell of the lilac bushes that are right outside my window. After work, I just love coming home to that smell that constantly drifts through my small apartment and envelopes the whole place. I can't help but stop and take it all in and take a load off!

This row of Lilacs was a nice surprise to come home to. One of my favorite smells from spring!

One think I DID manage to do was a bit more planting. Granted, it was Monday night, after work, so by the time I went around to the stores and got everything I needed, I was planting in the dark. Chad's mom totally motivated me to create a few boxes full of lettuce. She had a few that looked so lush and full, and she was able to have all this great lettuce for eating for the week. How cool is that to hot have to purchase it from the store?

I filled two boxes, one completely of romaine and the other of two leafier types of lettuce. I made the mistake of not watering them right away, since I was pretty wiped out at that time of night after getting them all planted, so they look a bit worse-for-wear! Hopefully they will take to their new home and I'll soon be having amazing salads for dinner every night!

Leaf Lettuce - I'll have to keep you posted on the actual type that this is; there are one version on each half.

Romaine lettuce

Remember! Spring is only memorable if you actually take the time to stop from your normal hustle-and-bustle and take it all in. Here's one of my favorite quotes, taken from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Watch for more photos of how the patio is actually taking shape!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Project Sh'moject, Let's Go Shopping!

Tonight turned out to be a pretty fun adventure! What was a night of attending a trade-show for work turned into an impromptu shopping extravaganza (spring, 2012 - to make it official, hehe!) I have found that some of the greatest finds are from dipping into a random store while on the road, or out of my normal stomping grounds. Usually when I'm not even looking for anything in-particular.

Tonight, the stop-in was to a Marshall's in Delafield. I know that they always have these huge bottles of water and a decent bathroom, so we made a break after an evening trip to Milwaukee. Not only did I find some deals, but I'm excited for the projects that they will lead to!

My first find was this rockin' mirror! I have been wanting a frame or mirror with a nice shape, but something for CHEAP! Now I finally found it! This has a pretty interesting design. The color leaves something to be desired, but just a coat of paint and I think this mirror is going to be pretty sweet!

Are you like me? That freak who spends time peeling back the labels to see how much something was priced before it kept getting reduced? This was retail $90, marked down to $49.94, then again to $35 and finally into my cheap arms for $20. I know, I would NEVER spend $90 for a mirror like this, but it's just fun to play those mind games on yourself. Also, I love finding deals like these - que suerte!!

This next purchase was not on sale, but I thought 8 bucks was pretty reasonable for this basket. It will be pretty great-looking on my table on my patio. My hope is to plant some flowers or maybe some of my herbs in this? The nice thing about that is it would be portable so I can easily bring it into my kitchen if I'm cooking something.

Also, I bet some mason jars would look pretty kick-butt in this basket! That, or the Fiji water bottles I bought at Marshall's fit perfect - I just have to cut the tops off and they will make some great clear containers for planting. What do you think would be good to plant in this?

My friend who was with me found this amazing lamp for $20 (sorry I didn't get a picture). It also needs a good makeover, but I can't wait to see the potential it is going to have with a little 'face lift'. I have to laugh, we walked in just to get a few waters but ended up traipsing out with our arms so full we could barely carry everything!

A good rule of thumb - to keep shopping under some kind of control never take a cart. That way, if you can't carry it you really don't need it! And if you REALLY want something, you'll do whatever you can to haul it back home. Happy shopping adventures!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday :: Magnets, Magnets, Magnets

I generally like order, but there's one place in my apartment where I love total chaos. It's my fridge! Why? Besides the fact that it's very ugly and white and boring, and I love magnets. It's the one thing that I like to collect. Every time I travel or have an adventure that I want to remember a memory from, I be sure to pick up a magnet. They are the best because they are small, generally pretty cheap, and you can never seem to have too many of them.

My favorite? I really have so many, but here are a few that stand out. I have these 'phalange' looking clips that hang off and out from the rest that I picked up while in Milwaukee in this great little shop in the 3rd ward. I also have a couple of cool bottle openers from Vegas and San Antonio that I love. The paper flowers along the top, right side are one of my favorite things to pump out when I'm into doing a mindless project.

It's definitely a hot mess, but my magnets always make me smile.

The front has much more than magnets -
pictures, Brewers baseball and Badger tickets, coupons, and announcements from loved ones.

There is one that I think is pretty hilarious. I bought it on my trip to the Louvre when I visited Paris right after college with a couple of my best girlfriends. We saw this in the gift shop, and of course I had to buy it. I had no idea of the actual meaning behind the scene (I know that everything means or symbolizes something in art from this period), but I secretly call it the 'pinching titties painting'. It's just so bizarre - love it!

Gabrielle d'Estrées et une de ses soeurs
You can see the 'pinching titties' magnet next to the lettuce leaf from potbellies.
Other Magnets include Disney film posters, Moulin Rouge Movie stills,
scenic deco Chicago Movie posters, Spam museum, and many more.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Patio Preparation :: Railing Planter Herb Garden

These grew just sitting in my kitchen! Hopefully they will take to their new home.

Part 2 of Patio Preparation continues... I caught a great sale of half-off herbs from Home Depot so I stocked up on a handful that I could possibly cook with. Basil, Parsley, Chives, Lavender, Oregano, Mint, Cilantro and Strawberries. I know nothing of planting/growing and know even less about what to cook this with unless I have a recipe. I guess this will be a learning experience as-we-go kinda thing. 

I DID read the tags that come with the pots, and was sure to put the shaded plants down by my entryway. The rest made their way to my Southern exposure patio. I bought 6 of these great railing planters. They were on sale at Menards for like $7.50 each! If all goes well I may have to run back and get a few more. I'm a little worried that they may flip off my patio because the gap that sits on the railing is a bit wider than necessary. Maybe some painter sticks wedged in there will do the trick? Let me know if you have any ideas!

It's getting green! Next step - hopefully some flowers!

I stocked up on dirt and the planters. The toughest part is getting going, right?

I didn't plant the strawberries yet.
There is a larger pot I have on my deck that I think I want to plant this in in hopes that it will have more room to grow.
I've read strawberries take a few years to really get going? Please let me know if you have any info on this!!

Here are my shaded mint and parsley.

First 2 planters on the patio are complete. I hope they go crazy and grow huge!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Is it Chad's Birthday, or Mine?

Today is a big day! Chad is now 31 and well off into his 30's. No dabbling around anymore; this the real deal - hehe! I love birthdays - mine or the like. Anytime to celebrate and go out to dinner or do something special - I'm in! My birthday is more than just a day. It starts with the weekend "oh, yeah! let's go out because it's my birthday!" Soon it turns into the month, "Oh, I should buy that because it's my birthday" or "I can eat that because it's my birthday!"

So, I know it's Chad's day, but I have to say I enjoyed myself quite thoroughly. One of my gifts to him was Twins tickets. He loves baseball, is not too much into things, and has a lifelong goal to visit every baseball stadium before his demise. I think that too is a pretty cool goal, so I'm trying to be there for as many games as I possibly can. Chad is also a big Twin's fan and has yet to see the game in the new(er) Target stadium, so soon we will check that off our bucket list. Let me tell you, I have the toughest time keeping secrets. A month ago when I bought the tickets, I kept asking "do you want to know what your birthday present is?" He has way more discipline and always makes me suffer and keep it in.

The celebration actually started the night before - Thursday night. I wanted to also make Chad a cake for his birthday. Partly because I'm cheap, but also because it has more meaning (at least if it's good tasting.) My co-worker passed this recipe along to me and promised it would be life-changing. My goal was do make an impressive 2-layer cake. For some reason whenever I think of birthday cake - I think something round and 2-layer.

Poke holes and then infuse the cake with pure liquid sugar and caramel, basically.

This is not the cake for someone trying to avoid sugar.

I plopped one cake on top of the other so the carmel is in the middle.
Then I flipped it on a plate, but on wax paper to help make it less messy.

It's a little lop-sided, but I think it turned out pretty good.
I'm very surprised I didn't drop it on the trip over to Chad's place, being the clutz that I am.

The cake is not of the 'clean eating' genre, but man - it is good! I surprised Chad the morning of his birthday by waking him to a serenade of Happy Birthday with the cake and lit candles. I have one major tradition growing up. My mother would force us out of bed and out stumbling into the kitchen where our half-dead, half-asleep looking sibling was waiting. Barely opening their eyes in their pj's, waiting by a cake, presents, and a balloon of some sorts, they would stare at you one-eye open happy to celebrate, but wishing they could do it from bed or not at the butt-crack of dawn. As painful as it was, it was memorable and always a nice tradition.

Chad didn't have an appeteit for cake at 8 in the morning (which I don't understand) so I bit the bullet and ate a slice saying, "I need to make sure it's edible." Definitely worth the work, and maybe next time I make it it won't lean too much.

Birthdays are a great thing, though! We took the day off and went golfing for 18 holes - our first of the season. It wasn't the greatest of weather, but the fog made it memorable. We played well for our first round out of the year and really enjoyed ourselves. Ladies, if you do anything, please be sure to be with someone who likes doing the same things as you. Then, when you end up celebrating their birthday it's like a second birthday! Full of cake, good eating, and fun adventures. I can't wait to see the Twins play - Happy Birthday to me, er, Chad! :)

They don't sell candles in quantities of 31, so I did the next best thing and spelled it out!
Chad after the first drive.
I'm enjoying a nice sugar bagel, to celebrate Chad's birthday.
It's not sunny, but the weather sure had character and the grass and trees were SO green.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday :: Salt 'n Pepper

Today's Tidbit is a newer purchase, with a nostalgic story. You've all seen this before in a previous post. They are these awesome Squirt salt and pepper shakers that were my Grandparents. These now live in Portage - my Aunt inherited them and we both love them. I couldn't bear to see them leave Portage, but I curiously checked for them on E-bay. Interestingly, they are actually pretty affordable and plentiful. I guess Squirt put out a lot of these shakers for self-promotional pieces in the 50s-60s. There are newer plastic versions, but I was looking for the older ones that match the set in Portage.

Remember seeing these back when I posted this winter?
Now, I already have a pretty cool set of salt and pepper shakers. They are magnetic to each other which is a bonus (I love magnets). I like that they are a unique shape and size, and so simple in design. But, their major flaw is that the salt and pepper doesn't come out very easily.

These match pretty nicely with my current decor and design.

They are made by ElementalKitchen, and I love them as well.
I don't want to start a salt and pepper collection; I'm not the collector kind of girl, but one day when I have a full kitchen with room for my table and possibly a breakfast bar... then, it will be nice to have more than one set!

Here they are! I am so thrilled to have grabbed these for about $20, including shipping! The one thing I love but never realized that is great is that the holes are nice and big so the salt and pepper don't clump or get stuck.

I know these probably don't 'match' as good as my other set, but I just love the memories of using these for dinners while visiting my grandparents growing up. I don't use Salt and pepper much growing up, but Grandma used to make Creamed Eggs (one of my favorites) and I would always douse it with loads of pepper.

OH! I have a tip! Invest in these cheap plastic cutting boards. I think you can get a few for less than 5 bucks, PLUS I love that you can bend and flex them. I use them as a funnel for jobs like this. Works Great!

Filling them up!
Functional and cool looking - Time to do more cooking!

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